"A gripping, bold, and daring novel."

-Dinaw Mengestu, author of All Our Names

Battered, bruised, and bloodied by the economic collapse, Clyde Twitty has all but given up hope for the future. The factory has shut down, the pick-up needs repairs, and the place he calls home is the town the American Dream forgot. Right about now he could use some help. Enter Jay Smalls, a charismatic martial artist who exerts an intense magnetic pull. Under Jay’s brutal instruction, Clyde begins a series of increasingly frightening tests that draw him into a seedy underworld of bare-knuckle fighting, brazen criminal acts, homemade drugs, and homegrown extremism. Jay reshapes Clyde into a fearless fighter—and directs his burning anger at a deserving target: the government. 

 

A thrilling debut novel—equal parts satire and morality play—that shines a sharp light on the radical underbelly of the floundering American Midwest. By tracing the violent rebirth of a desperate man, the novel explores with unflinching acuity the ugly nature of hate, the mechanics of radicalization, and the atomic power of having someone believe in you. 

 

 

PRAISE:

 

"Harvkey tests the limits of our sympathies. He challenges our ability to see the world through an unsavory pair of eyes. He dares us to look at unimaginable acts of violence and consider that they might have been performed by an actual human being." 

     -The Rumpus

 

"Harvkey’s gripping story is both an intimate reflection on one man’s need to escape the familiar and a sharp critique of radical culture in the Midwest.... Harvkey knows how to write a damn good book." 

     -Nylon Guys

 

"In the Course of Human Events bears more than a passing resemblance to Fight Club. Both were written by first-time authors. Both address male alienation in modern times and the fellowship to be gained from bare-knuckle fighting.... But the truth is that Harvkey has provided greater insight into his characters, as well as the political and cultural moment that inspires their neuroses..... In the Course of Human Events beats Fight Club in a knockout." 

     -BookTrib

 

"Harvkey heats incendiary current events to their boiling point to examine a young man’s life in Winter’s Bone territory." An "eerie, engrossing satire" and a "provocative, unflinching look at... hate.”

     -Publishers Weekly (starred review)

 

"Can I invoke Steinbeck at this point? And okay, that comparison may seem overblown, but it’s not without some merit. In The Course of Human Events bears a family resemblance to The Grapes of Wrath, with its big themes played out through the lives of small people. The writing is as adept, as plain.... what justifies lining up In the Course of Human Events on a shelf at least close to Steinbeck's classic is that like The Grapes of Wrath, here we have a book which intends to provoke: right from the nod to the Declaration of Independence in the title, to the white-knuckle finale. In our post-crash world of foodbanks and unrepentant bankers, it’s probably about time someone once again used fiction as a battle cry." 

     -Lit Reactor

 

"As a reader, it’s sometimes difficult to stomach a writer exploring despicable characters. But Harvkey finds plenty of complexity as he traces his character’s descent into extremism. This great novel [is] uniquely frightening.... with the kind of ending that makes a reader want to hit “refresh” again and again, hoping that something will change."

     -Electric Literature

 

"In the Course of Human Events taps into an all-too-real post-Recession anger.... With our current political discourse centering so much around extremism since Obama entered its smoldering scene, it’s a bold, polarizing, and I dare say praiseworthy step to write a social novel with ultra-conservatism as the punchline of its satire.... [a] 300 page firecracker of a book." 

     -Switchback magazine

 

"I simply couldn’t ask for anything else from this debut–a razor sharp social commentary written in the keen tone of a seasoned writer. In the Course of Human Events is so truthful, it will make all other debuts cry, wishing they were this good."

     -The Happening

 

"Harvkey writes in detail about the brutal nature of hate, the disturbing ways of radicalization, and the overwhelming power of the experience of being believed in, finally, for the first time in your life.... Harvkey has a very precise ear. His dialogue is sharp and authentic, his straightforward prose perfect for describing this harsh and unforgiving world."

     -Haeretz (Israel)

 

"Enjoyable, interesting, deep, worrying and scary. Fascinating look at how unemployment and economic misery can be subverted from dis-affection with government into militant radicalisation, especially in an environment where guns abound." 

      -Col's Criminal Library

 

"This novel examines the feelings of hatred that can be born out of poverty in a raw, unforgiving light."

—       -LA Magazine

 

"A dark, and yet compassionate gaze into the frustrated, violent, and broken heart of America.... A gripping, bold, and daring novel unlike any I've had the pleasure of reading before." 

     -Dinaw Mengestu, author of All Our Names

 

“With this stunning debut, a major new talent bursts upon the world of American Letters. [A novel] as brave as it is brilliant, as unsettling as it is important... [with] scenes of uncommon imagination, characters that leap to life at a single stroke. They will grab you in a bear hug, or by the throat (and sometimes both), and carry you along through a story every bit as gripping. A fearless exploration of an uncomfortable corner of the human heart—and an America little examined and even less understood—this is an important novel. Add to that the fact that it’s also so damn funny and here comes one hell of a book.”

     –Josh Weil, author of The Great Glass Sea and The New Valley

 

“Writing without fear in a stunning, riveting debut, Mike Harvkey expertly delineates how a vulnerable person could be indoctrinated into a world full of hate. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the birth of an extremist of any kind.”

     -Helen Schulman, author of This Beautiful LIfe

 

"A nightmare revelation: a mid-American apocalypse where your worst fears of coming apart are merely the protagonist’s coming-of-age. With prose that kicks harder than a sensei, and a villain that would haunt Tyler Durden’s dreams, Mike Harvkey has established himself as a major voice in contemporary fiction. A novel so good it’s got to be bad for you.”

     -Aaron Gwyn, author of Wynne's War

 

“At once a harrowing descent into the white supremacist underground and a timely portrait of 21st-century American malaise. Harvkey well understands his bleak Midwestern landscape, beaten down by recession, and casts an unflinching eye upon the casual violence and hate-consumed paranoia of the subculture such a hopeless world can nurture.”

     –Mark Binelli, author of Detroit City Is the Place to Be

 

"Booze. Guns. Race-hate; hard-boiled literary noir is a French favorite, but Harvkey reminds us that stories like this are born, brewed, and bottled in the good old US of A." 

     -Scott Wolven, author of Controlled Burn: Stories of Prison, Crime, and Men

Pick of the Week: The Millions LOS Angeles Magazine | Publishers Weekly

In the Course of Human Events novel Mike Harvkey Soft Skull Press 2014 Goodreads review
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